Zouk revisits iconic party nights before its last day at Jiak Kim Street on Dec 3

The faces of Zouk over the years, (from far left) Ms Tracy Phillips, Mr Andrew Ing and Ms Sofie Chandra, will each be programming a different themed night at the party venue for the last time before it moves to Clarke Quay.
The faces of Zouk over the years, (from far left) Ms Tracy Phillips, Mr Andrew Ing and Ms Sofie Chandra, will each be programming a different themed night at the party venue for the last time before it moves to Clarke Quay. ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

Zouk, which is leaving Jiak Kim Street, will host four iconic themed nights for the final time

Zouk will host its last party in Jiak Kim Street on Dec 3.

But before it leaves its iconic location of 25 years for its new home in Clarke Quay, it will be partying to some of the themed nights programmed by its past and present marketing managers.

Unlike the largely anonymous marketing managers almost everywhere else, Zouk's were the face of the club, the people who kicked off some of its most memorable themed nights.

They are Mr Andrew Ing, who was with the club from 1993 to 2001; Ms Tracy Phillips, from 1998 to 2009; and Ms Sofie Chandra, who currently heads the marketing and events division.

Mr Ing, who is now chief operating officer of The Lo & Behold Group, says that when he joined the club, its founder Lincoln Cheng was the face of Zouk. But that changed within the first few years.

"I think the drug bust (of 1995) changed everything," he says.

  • BOOK IT / BALEARIC PRESENTS: ALDRIN, DJB, JEREMY BOON & CHER FEATURING MANIAM

    WHEN: Nov 18, 10pm

    ADMISSION: Members get in free. Non-members: $28/$33 (women/men, includes two drinks)

    THE FINAL TGIW AT JIAK KIM: GO PINK OR GO HOME

    WHEN: Nov 23, 11pm

    ADMISSION: Women and members get in free. Non-members: $33 (men, includes two drinks)

    READYSET GLO PRESENTS HONG WITH WAYNE THE INSANE AT ZOUK

    WHEN: Nov 25, 11pm

    ADMISSION: Members get in free. Non-members: $28/$33 (women/men, includes two drinks)

    THE FINAL MAMBO JAMBO AT JIAK KIM

    WHEN: Nov 30, 11pm

    ADMISSION: Members get in free. Non-members: $28/$33 (women/men, includes two drinks)

"It pushed me into the limelight and Lincoln retreated from all sorts of public attention, so I became that spokesman and the face of Zouk."

Mr Ing's tenure also saw some of the most cutting-edge acts come to this side of the world, among them Bjork, Grace Jones and Massive Attack.

Around 1993, Zouk also saw the start of Balearic club nights, celebrating heady house music most commonly associated with the party island of Ibiza.

Balearic parties were on Friday nights, going against the convention of Saturday night parties at the time.

Mr Ing, 49, adds: "Fridays were not very good for business in those days, so we started Balearic to help boost our Friday sales. Eventually, Friday became the strongest night of the week ."

It was a similar story with the extremely popular and 1980s-themed Mambo Jambo nights, which ran on Wednesdays for 20 years, overtaking the Tuesday ladies' night slot that most other clubs adopted.

Mambo Jambo ended its weekly run in 2012.

The 2000s saw the rise of indie and electronica-centric Readyset Glo, this time initiated by Ms Phillips, 39, who is now the director of creative consultancy Ppurpose.

"It came out of the London scene in the mid-2000s and I felt it was just what Zouk needed to stay relevant and balance out the other nights," she says.

In contrast to the DJ-centric programming of other nights in the week, Readyset Glo featured live acts and guitar bands with synths and samplers, such as The Rapture and Mystery Jet.

"People really dressed up too, instead of sticking to the club uniform of tight dresses and wearing all black," she recalls.

"There were lots of colours, prints and props and there was a great camaraderie on the dance floor."

In the 2010s, electronic dance music and hip-hop music came to the fore.

To fill the gap on Wednesday nights that Mambo Jambo left behind, Zouk started themed mid- week party TGIW (Thank God It's Wednesday) in 2012, focusing on tertiary students and young clubbers.

Ms Chandra, 33, who has anchored TGIW alongside assistant business development manager Red Seo from when it started, recalls nights when clubgoers showed up in polka dots, all-white ensembles and even fur coats, depending on the theme of the night.

Zouk in Jiak Kim will celebrate all four iconic nights - Balearic (Nov 18), TGIW (Nov 23), Readyset Glo (Nov 25) and Mambo Jambo (Nov 30) - one last time, under the charge of Mr Ing, Ms Phillips and Ms Chandra.

Dec 2 and 3 will see the full stable of Zouk's past and present DJs taking the decks.

Zouk has not announced when it will take up residence in Clarke Quay. When it does, though, Mr Ing is confident that "people will go there, regardless of the location".

Ms Chandra adds: "A new home and space will definitely change the energy and dynamism of how our brand will be, but the people will always make us who we are."

Ms Phillips, who still gets recognised in public as "that girl from Zouk", says: "I joke about being a club kid for life, but I know there's truth in it. Once you fall in love with electronic music and find your tribe, you always return to it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Mambo Jambo one last time'. Print Edition | Subscribe